2 June 2021

From Hoxton Slums To Hipster Slick

Over the centuries, Shoreditch has undergone quite an astounding transformation.

Hoxton, Shoreditch’s equally trendy neighbour, used to be fields and market gardens in the early 19th century. Shoreditch, on the other hand, was a densely populated extension of the City and the home of trades and artisanal workers. Both districts, however, became slums with unsavoury housing estates.

In the Victorian era, Shoreditch was known for its swarms of body- snatchers! These grave-robbers and murderers profited from the development at that time in anatomical study.

The Victorians, with their belief in philanthropy, went to great lengths to pull Shoreditch out of its own gutters. The Shoreditch workhouse was built as a home for poor people. In 1866 it became a hospital for the poor.

Dangerous and lawless in the early 20th century, Shoreditch was later bombed badly in WW2. Then in the 1980’s, everything changed. Many budding artists moved to Old Street. Their scene centred around the Hackney Empire and in the 1990’s, what many remembered as a working-class dump was now bohemian, cool and quirky.

Becoming ever more glamorous and swanky, Shoreditch attracted many stylish young professionals. Shoreditch House, a trendy private members club, was built on the site of a Victorian meat-packing factory – testament to the district’s ability to evolve! Now, with modern offices becoming veritable pleasure domes for thriving new businesses, and the fashionable bars and street food stalls, is Shoreditch so hip it hurts? Or is it the King of Hip? Either way, it is truly irresistible.

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2 June 2021

Should You Live In Shoreditch? Just Look At The Buildings!

Taking its name from Jane Shore, mistress of Edward IV, who ended up dying destitute in a ditch, Shoreditch is steeped in history. And the best history lesson can be found by admiring its buildings.

When Henry VIII dissolved an Augustinian priory in 1539, he never could have predicted its rejuvenation 40 years on, when James Burbage turned it into a theatre. Shoreditch hence became a thespian quarter, and many of Shakespeare’s early plays were staged here. You will also find in the area the London Music Hall, where Charlie Chaplin performed. The Rich Mix Arts Centre and Shoreditch Town Hall both host many theatrical, dance and music shows. Thus Shoreditch truly is the stomping ground of many talented and creative people.

Arguably, the most striking of buildings in Shoreditch are the Georgian terraced houses. The Huguenots, French master silk-weavers, in the 18th century lived in these elegant and commanding  wide-windowed townhouses. They used upper story lofts as showrooms and the well-lit areas inside the houses were ideal for silk-weaving. The large windows allowed them to display their wares. Everyone should visit Dennis Severs’ House. Once home to the Jervis family – all silk weavers – in the 18th Century, it was transformed by Severs in the 1970’s to become an amazing museum. Through the use of immersive theatre, visitors become participants in the family’s everyday life.

Last century, Shoreditch was synonymous with poverty and crime. Living there, you probably would have rubbed shoulders with many a bare fist boxer, thief or gangster. The bourgeoisie then took over, making the most of the low value real estate there. Now gentrification means that you can buy a 2-bedroom loft on Nile Street, once a place for struggling artists, for £5.5 million!

Nevertheless, there are still some good options for starter homes in the area in 2021. On Hackney Road, a 1-bedroom flat is available for £135,000 under the shared ownership scheme. The space is flowing, light-filled and contemporary. Perfect for up-and-coming entrepreneurs. You can bag a 2 double-bedroom flat near Whitechapel on Montague Street for £350,000. The views across London are stunning from its private balcony.

Or consider a houseboat! This is an affordable way to live in the heart of East London. You can find one on Wenlock Basin Wharf Road, 0.7 miles from Shoreditch. Costing £65,000, and boasting a techno drive gearbox, it is sure to be snapped up by a savvy young professional.

I think one can agree, there’s something for everyone in Shoreditch and its neighbouring areas.

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2 June 2021

There’s Nothing Like Working In Shoreditch

Shoreditch has fast become a hotspot for businesses. The vibrant locality makes it an attractive and inspiring place for meetings and conferences. A multitude of cool and edgy venues are chosen by many companies as they reflect their brand personality. Shoreditch was once the workplace of artists such as Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst and designer Alexander McQueen. These creatives breathed life into old office blocks and run-down deserted warehouses in order to showcase their work. Their creative energy continues to flow through the workers in the area today.

Clusters of like-minded and forward-thinking people rely on the area to get their creative juices flowing. Young professionals gifted in the realms of culture, fashion, tech and entrepreneurship gravitate towards Shoreditch, largely due to the impressive list of fun things to do at lunch-time or after work. Once an unsavoury area, Shoreditch was hugely deprived. It had one pub, the Bricklayers Arms, and the people had to make do with one seedy nightclub: The London Apprentice. Now, thanks to gentrification, you can impress your clients in one of the excellent Michelin-starred restaurants, then later pop into a gallery, hear some live music, get lost in the fabulousness of a vintage market or maybe go off gallivanting to the prolific bars and clubs.

Many offices have showers onsite so these passionate entrepreneurs and techies can run or cycle to work in order to pump themselves up for the exciting day ahead!

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2 June 2021

Corporate Creations

Do you sip or stroke? Ask any member of the Shoreditch in-crowd and the answer is “Both.”

I’ve often thought of Shoreditch as the California of the UK. Sip ‘n Stroke, coming to the Old Street Gallery (62 Paul Street EC2A 4DQ) on 26th June, confirms this. It’s a ‘paint party’. Meaning a social event where revellers drink cocktails whilst being exposed to the ‘creative painting experience.’  Think self-expression through the medium of drip paint. Funnily enough, Jackson Pollock was hammered when he painted, as were Picasso and Francis Bacon. Toulouse Lautrec and Van Gogh made absinthe their tipple of choice. However, having seen the famous painting “L’Absinthe” by their contemporary Edgar Degas, I think you’ll agree that drinking it isn’t much fun! Also many think that the hallucinogens in absinthe made Van Gogh go mad and cut off his own ear! There may, however, be oodles of fun to be had enjoying a few cocktails (let’s rule out absinthe!) in moderation, at a Sip ‘N Paint party.

So if alcohol, enjoyed responsibly, can be a powerful tool for stimulating creativity and a new wave of thinking, no wonder entrepreneurs are the number one fans of Sip ‘N Stroke parties. Local businesses can even have the party come to their offices. With painting, dance competitions and karaoke all part of the package, this is corporate teambuilding with a twist!

Sip ‘N Stroke is also a firm favourite for birthdays and hen do’s. The website promises to provide canvases, paints, brushes and aprons. If, like me, you struggle to unleash your inner artist, you may feel a shiver go down your spine. Remember the exasperated look of your secondary art teacher? But with more-ish drinks, nibbles, and uber trendy DJ’s playing Hip Hop and R&B on offer (oh, and a 15% discount now on the website) you’ll soon be painting with passion!

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